The latest twist in Roche's long-running bid to acquire diagnostics expert Ventana has seen the pharma giant announce it intends to elect directors to Ventana's board at its next AGM (annual general meeting).
In possibly the longest running take-over battle of the year, Swiss pharma-giant and US diagnostics expert Ventana have openly traded hostile letters with Ventana repeatedly stating that Roche's $3bn offer is "grossly inadequate".
The hostile takeover bid was started by Roche at the end of June to enable the company to further its ability to supply diagnostic tests to predict patient response to its anticancer therapy porfolio.
Roche clearly feels that by acquiring Ventana it will gain an edge over its competitors in the oncology market with the diagnostic tools aiding both the approval process and making it more likely that patients will be prescribed the drug if a positive test is observed.
Just last month , Ventana 'reluctantly' opened its books to Roche to enable the pharma giant to "better understand the company's business prospects and the inherent value in companion diagnostics".
Ventana is hoping to boost the value of the offer from the "grossly inadequate" $75 per share offer to a value closer to the $88 that the shares are currently trading at.
In a statement, Ventana reiterated its desire to remain open to all value creation opportunities and said it is committed to obtaining maximum value for its stockholders.
Roche has now nominated four candidates for election to Ventana's board of directors at its next AGM, scheduled for June 2008.
"We have taken this step, as required by Ventana's bylaws, because we are committed to pursuing the acquisition of Ventana. However we continue to prefer a negotiated transaction," said Dr Franz Humer, Chairman and CEO of Roche.
"All of our nominees have proven track records in their areas of expertise and if elected, we are confident that they will act in the best interests of Ventana stockholders by exploring all alternatives for maximizing shareholder value."